Cook Islands: Politicians move to ban journalist from parliament

Cook Island politicians proposed a motion to ban Cook Islands News journalist, Rashneel Kumar from parliament after they criticised him for ‘unfair’ reporting. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urge politicians to re-consider the ban and the precedent it may set for press freedom.

Cook Islands Parliament. Credit:Cook Islands Parliament/Facebook

The motion followed a report by Rashneel Kumar during Question Time concerning the increase of travel privileges for spouses of outer-bound MPs. Parliament heavily condemned the article as sensationalist with Prime Minister Henry Puma describing it as ‘incorrect and unfair’ coverage.

The Cook Island News editor, Jonathan Milne stood by Kumar’s article, stating that the reporting was both fair and accurate. While this is the first time that a journalist is set to be evicted from Cook Island parliament, the proposed ban against Kumar could become a precedent for the government to remove all media access from any parliamentary session. Not only is this motion a violation of media freedom but a press ban would ensure that the decision makers of Cook Island cannot be held accountable for their actions and their speech. The parliamentary response to Kumar’s article has been disproportionate and only reveals how fearful the government is of any critique to their actions.

IFJ said: “The IFJ urges the government of the Cook Islands to revoke their motion to ban Rashneel Kumar from parliament. The continued media monitoring of government activities is integral to ensuring that parliament is representative of the people of the Cook Islands.”

 

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the IFJ Asia - Pacific IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram